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Candidate Interview: Rep. James Lankford (R) OK-SEN

Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., who is running for Oklahoma's open Senate seat, visited Roll Call on June 10.

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Amanda Renteria Discusses Playing in the Congressional Women's Softball Game

House candidate Amanda Renteria discusses her athletic background in the context of the Congressional Women's Softball Game during a February 27 interview with CQ Roll Call.

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Emily Cain on Playing Softball Ahead of the Congressional Women's Softball Game

House candidate Emily Cain discusses her athletic background in the context of the Congressional Women's Softball Game during an April 30 interview with CQ Roll Call.

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Mia Love Talks Softball Ahead of the Congressional Women's Softball Game

House candidate Mia Love discusses her athletic background in the context of the Congressional Women's Softball Game during her June 5 interview with CQ Roll Call.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of June 9

Even with Majority Leader Eric Cantor stealing the spotlight for much of the week, members managed to focus their attention on beef jerky, hamburgers, pools and Ewoks.

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McConnell Pays Tribute to Jim Bunning's Perfect Game

It was Father's Day 50 years ago that former Sen. Jim Bunning made history, pitching a perfect game at Shea Stadium. The Kentucky Republican's hall of fame career featured no shortage of milestones, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn't let the anniversary go by without a tribute to his former colleague — a man with whom he at times famously disagreed.

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Obama Says He 'Will Consult Closely With Congress' on Iraq Military Action

President Barack Obama said he is considering "targeted" and "selected" military actions in Iraq, short of sending U.S. troops, to turn back rebel forces, but wants assurances that the Iraqi government will take steps to end sectarian strife. In a statement at the White House, Obama said he will "consult with Congress" and keep the American people informed about his decision. But he said he would not be making a decision "overnight" and need Iraqi leaders to make assurances that they would make changes necessary to deal with their political problems. "We are not going to be able to do it for them," Obama said.

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Pelosi on Cantor Exit: 'It's a Whole New Ballgame'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pretended to hold a baseball at the microphones on Thursday morning during her weekly press conference, reiterating her characterization of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's Tuesday primary defeat as creating "a whole new ballgame." The California Democrat said she's hopeful the House can tackle issues like an immigration overhaul, despite concerns that Cantor's departure will drive House Republicans further to the right, making compromise less likely. "Under the current leadership in the Republican side, we've had a shutdown of government, we have not passed immigration, we have not passed the Voting Rights Act which has always been bipartisan," Pelosi said. "I don't know how things can get worse than the obstruction that is already here."

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Boehner: Dempsey, Hagel 'Naive' on Bergdahl Exchange

Speaker John A. Boehner blasted President Barack Obama on Thursday for "making deals with terrorists" and "taking a nap" on Iraq. Reiterating his position that the swap of five Taliban prisoners in the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, prison for the safe return of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl would make America less safe, Boehner said that the "new Obama Doctrine is making deals with terrorists" while adding both Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsy were "dead wrong" in signing off on the exchange.

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Boehner Refuses to Endorse Cantor Successor

Speaker John A. Boehner refused to analyze Majority Leader Eric Cantor's primary defeat on Tuesday saying "every election is different." He also wouldn't make an endorsement for who should replace Cantor, R-Va., as the No. 2 member of the House GOP. "Members are going to make this decision," Boehner said, adding that he can "work with anyone" who might get the job — whether it's current Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Rules Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, or perhaps even Idaho Republican Raúl R. Labrador.

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Wyden Touts Whistleblower Protections in Intelligence Bill

Sen. Ron Wyden is chastising a recent policy directive while highlighting new whistleblower protections in the intelligence bill that the Senate quietly passed Wednesday evening. In a widely-reported April directive, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. prohibited intelligence agency personnel from making unauthorized contact with members of the media. In the view of Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who has been a longtime skeptic of surveillance programs, the policy could be implemented in far too many circumstances. "If you're an employee of an intelligence agency and if you have a family member who likes to post or retweet articles about national security, suddenly having a conversation with that family member about important issues like NSA surveillance or the war in Afghanistan could lead to you getting punished for having unauthorized contact with the media," Wyden said in a Thursday floor speech, saying the policy could include information that isn't classified.

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Cantor Announces He’s Stepping Down, Backs McCarthy for Leader

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., announced Wednesday afternoon he will resign his leadership post and endorsed Kevin McCarthy of California to replace him. "Effective July 31st, I will be stepping down as majority leader," Cantor told reporters after an emotional meeting of House Republicans in the Capitol. His defeat has already touched off a massive leadership scramble to replace him. But Cantor said that he would back his fellow "Young Gun" McCarthy if he runs for leader with his "full support."

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Hagel: I Take My Responsibilities 'Damn Seriously'

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, testifying Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee, told lawmakers that the Obama administration could have done a better job communicating with Congress on the decision to trade five Taliban prisoners for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. "Wars are messy, and they're full of imperfect choices," the defense secretary told the panel in his opening remarks. But he defended the White House decision to make the trade without notifying Congress, and he made it clear the decision came from the top. "The President's decision to move forward with the transfer of these detainees was a tough call," Hagel said. I supported it. I stand by it. As Secretary of Defense, I have the authority and the responsiblity, as has been noted here, to determine whether detainees ... at Guantánamo Bay can be transfered to the custody of another country. I take that responsiblity, Mr. Chairman, members of this committee, damn seriously. Damn seriously. As I do any responsibility I have in this job."

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Eric Cantor Loses Primary in Massive Upset

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary Tuesday night to a poorly-funded GOP opponent in the biggest electoral stunner in several cycles. College professor David Brat defeated Cantor, 56 percent to 44 percent, according to The Associated Press.

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Senate GOP Leaders Criticize Student Loan Bill, Push VA Measure

As the Senate prepares to move forward with legislation addressing the VA scandal, GOP leaders pushed back on the student loan measure championed by Democrats and led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dissed the measure, which would allow student loans to be refinanced at lower current rates with an offsetting millionaire minimum tax. Instead, he said, the Senate should be acting on the bill to address the issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs. "We have a bipartisan veterans bill negotiated the way we used to do business in the Senate, with members of both parties, ready to go," the Kentucky Republican said. "It was introduced yesterday. So, I hope we'll not get onto a bill going nowhere and immediately turn to the veterans bipartisan bill and see if we can address that in a bipartisan way very quickly. Maybe even finish it this week."

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Reid Defers to Wyden on Highway Bill Funding

Majority Leader Harry Reid sidestepped a question at his weekly news conference Tuesday about whether he would push for a corporate tax "holiday" to fund the depleted Highway Trust Fund, as reports surfaced that Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., had discussed the idea with Reid. "I am pushing everything I can to figure out a way to continue the surface transportation bill," Reid said. "I'm just willing to talk to anybody. The ultimate decider on this however, is going to be Ron Wyden and the finance committee." Wyden, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, reiterated Tuesday his intentions to find a bipartisan funding solution.

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Reid Touts VA Bill, Student Loan Fix at Weekly News Conference

The Senate could move ahead at breakneck pace on bipartisan legislation to address the VA scandal — after just as swiftly voting to block a partisan student loan refinancing bill. A test vote on the student loan measure championed by Democrats and led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is set for Wednesday, and despite the vocal support of Democrats and an outside public relations push, it is going nowhere fast. Majority Leader Harry Reid said the VA bill could move ahead quickly at his weekly news conference. "I hope we can bring it to the floor in the next 24 hours, 48 hours at the most," the Nevada Democrat said. "And if people want amendments on the veterans bill, they should be able to have amendments on it."

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What You Missed: House Veterans' Affairs Questions VA Bureaucracy

On the same day an internal audit revealed 57,000 veterans had waited more than 90 days for their first medical appointments, a House Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on the VA signaled that fixing the problems in the sprawling federal bureaucracy will be far more difficult than just upping spending or passing a single piece of legislation. In a hearing that took a far more conciliatory and fact-finding tone than previous meetings on the subject, Veterans Affairs and Government Accountability Office witnesses spoke at length about the challenges in addressing medical wait times.

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Reid Praises Miss USA Winner, Regrets Missing Pageant Finale

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid missed the ending of Sunday evening's Miss USA pageant, but Monday on the Senate floor, he offered praise for the young woman who won — a fellow Nevadan. The Nevada Democrat called Nia Sanchez "gifted beyond her physical beauty." "I'm disappointed that I kind of caved in in watching the final of the USA, Miss USA contest because Miss Nevada won, and I'd like to have seen that," Reid said. "I placed a call to her and I'll talk to her as soon as she gets out of the clouds, where I'm sure she is now. But I congratulate the newly crowned Miss USA and that is our own Nia Sanchez."

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Candidate Interview: Mia Love (R) UT-04

The former mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, who is running for the open seat in Utah's 4th District, visited Roll Call on June 5.

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Candidate Interview: Ruben Gallego (D) AZ-07

The former assistant minority leader in the Arizona House of Representatives, who is running for the open seat in Arizona's 7th District, visited Roll Call on March 4.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of June 2

Senators kicked off the first week of June asking for reporters' names, analyzing the "Wizard of Oz" and taking baths to clean themselves of sewer waste.

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Candidate Interview: Dan Sullivan (R) AK-SEN

The former Alaska attorney general who is challenging Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, visited Roll Call on June 4.

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Sanders, McCain Announce VA Health Care Deal

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., announced a bipartisan VA health care deal Thursday afternoon. Sanders, the Senate Veterans' Affairs chairman, and McCain met Thursday to negotiate a bipartisan response to the scandal at the VA — and they announced the deal on the Senate floor. “We were able to come together, I believe, in a way that will help to relieve this terrible tragedy that seems to have befallen our nation's veterans," McCain said. “We both had to make some very tough compromises." “Our job was to sit down and work out the best agreement. We did," Sanders said. "Does it solve all of the problems facing our veterans? Absolutely not.”

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Schumer Compares Steve King to 'Wizard of Oz' on Immigration

Nearly two weeks after Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, challenged Sen. Charles E. Schumer and other Senate Democrats to a "duel," the New York Democrat returned the favor on the Senate floor Wednesday, calling King the "Wizard of Oz" on immigration. "Steve King is much like the Wizard of Oz when it comes to immigration," Schumer said during a 10-minute floor speech. "He is pulling the levers behind the screen to make it seem he has the power. [The] Republican party will learn sooner or later, like Dorothy did in the 'Wizard of Oz,' that actually King works by fear and he doesn't have the power, that the Wizard's power is overstated he can't really do very much. And the only way to get back home and do something real is in ourselves."

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Reid Offers GOP a Deal on VA Bills

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., offered Senate Republicans a vote on a House-passed veterans bill in exchange for allowing a vote on a Senate Democratic bill Tuesday, but questions over amendments could stifle action. “I hope they accept this offer so we can take action to address the problems of the [Department of Veterans Affairs] this week,” Reid said. The Nevada Democrat said he had not yet heard a response from Republicans.

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Reid Says White House Did Not Violate Law in Bergdahl Prisoner Exchange

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday he was informed by the White House one day before the May 31 swap of five Taliban detainees in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, later adding the exchange did not violate the law. "I've been told no, he did not violate the law," the Nevada Democrat said in a response to a question about a 30-day statutory notification requirement. "In my own personal opinion, Guantánamo has been there far too long, and I think we should get them out of there as quick as we can. We've been held up from doing that by the Republicans not wanting them, any of them to be tried here in the United States."

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Senate Intel Vice Chairman: 'Dangerous Precedent' Set by Bergdahl-Taliban Swap

The May 31 prisoner swap freeing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban detainees drew the ire Tuesday of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, who told reporters he was not properly notified of the transfer. “I haven’t had a conversation with the White House on this issue in a year and a half,” the Georgia Republican said. “And if that’s keeping us in the loop, then this administration is more arrogant than I thought they were.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he was notified on May 31, but did not remember whether it was before or after the public release.

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Carney 2013 Statement: No Detainee Transfer 'Without Consulting With Congress'

Amid charges from Speaker John A. Boehner that the Obama administration intentionally kept the swap of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban officials from Congress, new criticism emerged regarding a statement last year by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. When asked by NBC News' Kristen Welker about the potential of exchanging the five officials for Bergdahl on June 21, 2013, Carney said the White House would follow the law and consult with Congress before making any decisions. "We would not make any decisions about transfer of any detainees without consulting with Congress," Carney said. "At this time we’ve made no decisions about the transfer of detainees. And in accordance with law, we would be consulting with Congress should we make any decisions about that ... [but] on these specific issues about individual detainees, that would be a process that is done in accordance with law."

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Candidate Interview: Emily Cain (D) ME-02

The state Senator who is running for the open House seat in Maine's 2nd District, visited Roll Call on Wednesday, April 30.

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Maya Angelou Honored on House Floor

Del. Eleanor Homes Norton, D-D.C., led a tribute to her close friend and fellow civil rights activist Maya Angelou on the House floor Friday afternoon.

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Boehner Says Shinseki's Resignation 'Really Changes Nothing'

Following the resignation Friday morning of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, criticized President Barack Obama again for not doing more to solve problems surrounding the scheduling system and waiting lists at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. "[Shinseki's] resignation, though, does not absolve the president of his responsibility to step in and make things right for our veterans," Boehner said during a Friday afternoon news conference. "Business as usual cannot continue. And until the president outlines a vision and an effective plan for addressing the broad dysfunction at the VA, today's announcement really changes nothing. One personnel change cannot be used as an excuse to paper over a systemic problem."

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of May 26

It may have been a short work week, but members still found the time to discuss the pros and cons of pets using pot, their relations to Mark Wahlberg and the lifespan of Twinkies.

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Pelosi Questions Wisdom of Firing Shinseki

Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., don't find common ground on a lot of issues, but both lawmakers staked out similar positions Thursday on Eric Shinseki, rebuffing calls for the embattled Veterans Affairs secretary's resignation. “They kept the information form the secretary and the Congress. So let’s reward them by removing the secretary?” Pelosi asked at her weekly news conference. "Certainly what was done is dishonest, let's just see what else it is."

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What You Missed: House Veterans' Affairs Hearing on VA Scandal

Calls for the resignation of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki grew louder on Capitol Hill Wednesday, as the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee attacked the VA for not being forthright, and an internal audit revealed that problems at a veterans’ medical facility in Phoenix were more extensive than previously reported.

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Behind the Photo: Bill Clark's Favorite Photos

In this installment of our “Behind the Photo” series, photographer Bill Clark discusses his favorite photos he’s taken over years on Capitol Hill and on the road.

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of May 19

While Rep. Steve King is busy challenging members to duels, members tell reporters to grow out their hair, reflect on the glory days of dial-up Internet and cite Stephen Colbert on the floor.

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Pelosi Calls for Congressional Action in Veterans Affairs Scandal

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday suggested that Congress ought to take legislative action to address the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs. The California Democrat called the "allegations of misconduct" at the VA — charges that the department manipulated wait times for veterans seeking medical attention — "completely and utterly unacceptable." But she defended President Barack Obama and declined to specifically implicate VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, calling instead for a comprehensive investigation into the allegations and for the Veterans' Affairs committees in the House and Senate to explore broad overhauls of the agency's operational structure.

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Steve King Challenges Senators to a 'Duel'

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has challenged three top Senate Democrats to a duel — but "not like Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton," the lawmaker was quick to clarify. Unlike the famous confrontation in 1804 wherein Burr, the sitting vice president, shot and killed the ex-Treasury secretary, King would prefer to sort out philosophical differences with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin and Charles E. Schumer "like many men do it today: Not duel with 50 paces and pistols, but ... with microphones within arm's reach."

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Boehner Brushes Aside Notion He Is 'Blocking' Immigration Overhaul

In a tense exchange with Univision and Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos at a press conference Thursday, House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, was asked why, roughly a year after the Senate passed sweeping immigration changes, Boehner is "blocking immigration reform." "Me? Blocking?" Boehner replied sarcastically. Boehner, who reiterated again Thursday that most Republicans want to act on immigration but don't trust the president to enforce the law, said he has been calling for reform for more than a year, but that the Senate’s bill is unacceptable.

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Boehner 'Getting a Little Closer' to Calling for Shinseki's Resignation

As more members piled on Thursday calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller of Florida continued to hold back, although Boehner noted he is beginning to lose patience. “Listen, I have not called for General Shinseki to resign, although I have to admit I’m getting a little closer,” he told reporters. When asked why, he continued, “We’ve not just let them down, we’ve let them die. It’s awful stuff and somebody ought to be held accountable for it.”

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Boehner: NSA Bill Addresses Privacy Concerns While Maintaining National Security

After a year of global criticism of the reach of American phone and data surveillance programs, the House approved new restrictions Thursday that critics dismissed as watered down. The USA Freedom Act — backed by Republicans and Democrats and supported by President Barack Obama — would shift the collection and storage of phone metadata from the National Security Agency to private phone companies. The measure passed 303-121, with Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio saying the bill maintains an important national security program while addressing concerns that the NSA had overstepped its authority. "People are a lot more comfortable that the government is not storing all this metadata that we were," the Ohio Republican told reporters. "And I think we also in this bill make it clear that there's no access to this data without a court decision, and the standards for that decision are higher than what they are."

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What You Missed: House Foreign Affairs Hearing on Boko Haram

The House Foreign Affairs committee held a hearing on the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which kidnapped more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in April.

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McConnell Returns to Capitol, Makes 2014 GOP Unity Pitch

A routine media stakeout in the Ohio Clock Corridor on the second floor of the Capitol took on a decidedly campaign feel as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell returned to D.C. after a primary victory back home. The Kentucky Republican said Wednesday that after the last few elections, Republicans are growing unified as they head into November following a series of primary victories for the establishment Tuesday night.

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Carney: 'A Shame' Unemployment Extension Is Going Nowhere

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday it's "a shame" that House Republicans haven't passed an unemployment extension — and suggested they should act without requiring something in return. "It is our view that these are benefits that ought to be extended to Americans — to millions of Americans who need them," Carney said. "We do not view it as a cynical horse-trading exercise to achieve some ideological objective."

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Paul, Wyden Clash Over Barron Nomination, Use of Drones Abroad

Sen. Rand Paul contested the nomination of David J. Barron to be a First Circuit appeals court judge as well as the Obama administration's use of drones for targeted killings of Americans during a 31-minute floor speech Wednesday. The Kentucky Republican faced an objection to a unanimous consent request to delay Barron's confirmation, and following Paul's morning remarks Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., took the floor in support of Barron while criticizing the Obama administration for its resistance to providing Congress with memos outlining its legal basis for carrying out acts of war. "It's unfortunate that it took Mr. Barron's nomination for the Justice Department to make these memos public," Wyden said. "I believe that every American has the right to know when their government believes it is allowed to kill them." The Senate later voted to limit debate on Barron's nomination to a seat on the Boston-based court, 52-43.

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Behind the Photo: Tom Williams' Favorite Photos

In the second installment of our series, “Behind the Photo,” Williams discusses his favorite photos he's taken through the years on Capitol Hill.

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Obama Demands Improvements at VA, but Doesn’t Fire Shinseki

President Barack Obama is demanding that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki make immediate improvements for veterans, but has decided not to fire him, for now, as a scandal over allegations of manipulated wait time reports spreads to dozens of facilities. "If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period," Obama said in a statement in the White House briefing room, followed by a brief news conference. Obama promised accountability and punishments for anyone found responsible for misconduct at VA facilities.

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Reid Open to VA Amendments on Defense Bill

As Senators begin to discuss legislation designed to remedy the controversy engulfing the Department of Veterans Affairs, it isn't immediately clear when they might have a venue for that debate. On Tuesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate would not legislate on the fiscal 2015 Military Construction-VA spending bill, but then volunteered that a VA health debate might happen in connection with the defense authorization bill, which is currently being marked up by the Armed Services Committee. "We would be happy to try to working something out on the authorization, which my understanding is that Sen. Levin's going to work on that again this week, hopefully report it out really soon," Reid said, referring to Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich.

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Reid: No Obamacare Amendments on Tax Cut Bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has no interest in debating a repeal of the medical device excise tax as part of any negotiations to revive a stalled tax cut bill. "That's an Obamacare amendment. We're not going to do that. [Republicans] can have as many amendments as practical to change the bill that's on the floor, and there's plenty of amendments that need to be offered on that. We have a lot on our side," the Nevada Democrat said. "So, the answer is 'no'."

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